Police have been forced to hold special awareness sessions after officers mistakenly assigned the wrong sex to transgender people.

Officers have inadvertently referred to women as men and men as women.

Now the force is hosting special sessions to try to prevent further errors.

A transgender member of the police force talks to people about what they should do and they watch a DVD.

A member of staff at Sussex Police who attended the course explained he was taught to ask people how they would like to be referred to – and to immediately apologise if they did make a mistake.

Sussex Police admitted the errors after The Argus approached the force about it.

The situation came to The Argus’ attention after Brighton and Hove City Council held a transgender awareness scrutiny committee meeting, addressing the issue of transgender people in the city.

The panel said: “We are aware that there have been incidents when people have been wrongly assigned a gender by police officers when they call in to report an incident, which has led to upsetting and insensitive handling of that individual at the police station.”

Superintendent Laurence Taylor said members of the transgender community should feel confident their concerns would be dealt with sensitively.

'Raising awareness'

He said: “There have been a small number of incidents where people have been wrongly assigned gender which we recognise as both upsetting and inappropriate.

“In order to raise awareness of transgender issues we held a transgender awareness training session for representatives of all districts and departments across Sussex and plans are underway to expand this to all staff.

“In support of this members of the transgender community helped in creating an awareness DVD which was endorsed by them.”

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